New Orleans, United States

New Orleans is #7 on The 2014 GOOD City Index

With Louisiana now hot on the heels of Los Angeles as a hub for film production and companies like Kickboard and TurboSquid representing the “Silicon Bayou” tech economy, New Orleans is still blossoming. The city hosted its third international art biennial this fall, alongside a local film festival, fringe theater festival, and comedy festival, which all continue to grow larger each year. Of course, not everyone is happy with the attention. Often transient movie industry workers have been blamed for rapidly increasing rents citywide. Staggering statistics about pervasive racial inequalities put a damper on rosy economic outlooks. Noise ordinances, cultural misunderstanding, and appropriation put many locals on the offense, sparking heated debate over gentrification, charter schools, and the effects of outside influence on the city’s soul. And yet, the looming vulnerability of New Orleans’ coastal environment continues to stimulate this dynamic crescent of creative self-expression and heart-centered resiliency.

Hub for progress

Entrepreneurship is ripe in New Orleans, driven in large part by programs like Idea Village. An incubator, financial support network, and mentor organization for more than 3,000 entrepreneurs, the Village served as the main sponsor of New Orleans Entrepreneur Week, which boasted more than 5,000 participants. This enthusiasm for new, homegrown ideas has created a fertile environment for organizations like PowerMoves NOLA, which serves minority entrepreneurs, and the New Orleans Startup Fund, which offers investment to early-stage companies throughout the New Orleans region.

Civic engagement

Local government is slowly improving its responsiveness to citizens’ needs. Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s administration has made headway by making city data, like the comprehensive 2014 Blight Reduction Report, readily available online. Organizations like the Neighborhood Partnership Network are also working to stimulate and support the community, producing the bi-monthly Trumpet, the city’s only community-run newspaper, and running the Capacity College, a series of educational opportunities for neighborhood groups to expand their reach.

Street life

While well known hotspots like Bourbon Street and Frenchmen Street offer moments of ineffable charm, one must often go off the beaten path to get a real sense of life in New Orleans. Freret Street is a prime example. The street underwent a major facelift this year and is now populated almost exclusively by local businesses, including the popular music club Gasa Gasa, Freret Market, the upscale cocktail bar Cure, and Company Burger, a favorite hamburger joint. The Freret Neighborhood Center has worked hard to advocate and support the local community through the development, helping to thwart gentrification and make the street a diverse microcosm of new and old business.

Defining moment

In late 2014, over 35 organizations established the Greater New Orleans Water Collaborative, a diverse coalition determined to tackle water management issues, both from flooding and increased risk from hurricanes. Armed with the innovative GNO Urban Water Plan, these designers, architects, nonprofits, and city leaders are calling for a decrease in pumping, advocating for a water management system that embraces water at every level, increases open water storage, and encourages waterfront development.


While cities around the country look for ways to bring their streetcars back to life, New Orleans continues to maintain its famous streetcar line with little interruption. Line expansions have become a priority, with the Loyola Avenue line successfully implemented in 2013. A new Rampart Street/St. Claude Avenue line is currently in construction, due to be completed by 2016. In a continuing effort to compensate for decreases in service after Hurricane Katrina, the Ride New Orleans advocacy organization worked tirelessly in 2014 to increase access and convenience for public transit riders.

Green life

Crescent Park, over seven years in the making, finally opened on the riverfront in 2014, bringing alive a 1.4-mile strip of riverfront property that had languished for years. The space includes a soaring pedestrian footbridge over the railroad tracks and an old wharf transformed into an open-air performance and community space. An extensive native plant landscaping scheme is also scheduled to be completed, in line with a growing trend in urban farming.


New Orleans’ Latino community grew steadily after Katrina. The group makes up more than 5 percent of the city’s population, according to the most recent U.S. Census. Advocacy groups like the Congress of Day Laborers, or Congresso, and Puentes New Orleans work hard to secure equal rights and economic opportunities for newcomers. In April, migrant construction workers, who moved to New Orleans during its rebuilding, marched in the streets with their families to demand the right to stay in the city they helped rebuild. The action was part of the national #Not1More campaign against deportations.

Work/life balance

People of New Orleans do not take pride in leading balanced lives, instead choosing to do things a bit differently. Beginning with Halloween—which coincided this year with the VooDoo music festival headlined by Outkast—and ending with Jazz Fest, the later months of the year are usually packed with opportunities for indulgence, while the summer months mark the true downtime for many in the city. Locals learn to savor this time when tourist season slows and the demands of work and play subside, although no one sheds a tear when, come October, it’s finally possible to wear long pants again.

Kezia Kamenetz is a writer, dreamworker, and teacher based in New Orleans, Louisiana. She suffers from the inability to live anywhere else, a common ailment for Crescent City natives and newcomers alike. She blames the fried shrimp po’boys from Parkway with a side of sweet potato fries.

AFP News Agency / Twitter

A study out of Belgium found that smart people are much less likely to be bigoted. The same study also found that people who are bigoted are more likely to overestimate their own intelligence.

A horrifying story out of Germany is a perfect example of this truth on full display: an anti-Semite was so dumb the was unable to open a door at the temple he tried to attack.

On Wednesday, October 9, congregants gathered at a synagogue in Humboldtstrasse, Germany for a Yom Kippur service, and an anti-Semite armed with explosives and carrying a rifle attempted to barge in through the door.

Keep Reading Show less
via Andi-Graf / Pixabay

The old saying goes something like, "Possessions don't make you happy." A more dire version is, "What you own, ends up owning you."

Are these old adages true or just the empty words of ancient party-poopers challenging you not to buy an iPhone 11? According to a new study of 968 young adults by the University of Arizona, being materialistic only brings us misery.

The study examined how engaging in pro-environmental behaviors affects the well-being of millenials. The study found two ways in which they modify their behaviors to help the environment: they either reduce what they consume or purchase green items.

Keep Reading Show less

One of the biggest obstacles to getting assault weapons banned in the United States is the amount of money they generate.

There were around 10 million guns manufactured in the U.S. in 2016 of which around 2 million were semiautomatic, assault-style weapons. According to the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the firearms industry's trade association, the U.S. industry's total economic impact in 2016 alone was $51 billion.

In 2016, the NRA gave over $50 million to buy support from lawmakers. When one considers the tens of millions of dollars spent on commerce and corruption, it's no wonder gun control advocates have an uphill battle.

That, of course, assumes that money can control just about anyone in the equation. However, there are a few brave souls who actually value human life over profit.

Keep Reading Show less
via Reddit and NASA / Wikimedia Commons

Trees give us a unique glimpse into our past. An examination of tree rings can show us what the climate was like in a given year. Was it a wet winter? Were there hurricanes in the summer? Did a forest fire ravage the area?

An ancient tree in New Zealand is the first to provide evidence of the near reversal of the Earth's magnetic field over 41,000 years ago.

Over the past 83 million years there have been 183 magnetic pole reversals, a process that takes about 7,000 years to complete.

Keep Reading Show less
The Planet
via Pixabay

The final episode of "The Sopranos" made a lot of people angry because it ends with mob boss Tony Soprano and his family eating at an ice cream parlor while "Don't Stop Believin'" by Journey plays in the background … and then, suddenly, the screen turns black.

Some thought the ending was a dirty trick, while others saw it as a stroke of brilliance. A popular theory is that Tony gets shot, but doesn't know it because, as his brother-in-law Bobby Baccala said, "You probably don't even hear it when it happens, right?"

So the show gives us all an idea of what it's like to die. We're here and then we're not.

Keep Reading Show less